Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bob Woodruff Reports on Iraq Vets with Traumatic Brain Injury

Yesterday Bob Woodruff was interviewed by Oprah, and gave a report, a documentary called "To Iraq and Back, at 10pm on ABC. Just over a year ago, Bob was chosen to co-anchor "World News Tonight" less than a month before he went to Iraq. Imbedded with the 4th Infantry Division, Bob was "injured" when an improvised explosive device, IED, struck their armored personnel carrier north of Taji during a combined operation of Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces.

While "the media" dutifully reports on the numbers of war dead, the true toll of the war is shunted aside. Partly due to state of the art battlefield emergency treatment, war wounded survive in numbers not seen in previous wars. Is the number of those returning war vets acurately reported? What is the nature of their "disabilities?" Is Bob Woodruff a good example of the recovery we can expect for war vets injured in the Iraq war? These and other questions were raised by Bob in his documentary.

The film notes that the Department of Defense puts
the number of men and women wounded in Iraq and
Afghanistan at about 23,000, while the Department
of Veterans Affairs has recorded treating more than
200,000 veterans of those two wars. Paul Sullivan, the
director of programs at the advocacy group Veterans
for America, says, "What you have are two sets of books.
"Mr. Woodruff politely asks the secretary of veterans
affairs, R. James Nicholson, to explain the discrepancy.
Citing department reports that list 73,000 mental
disorders, 61,000 diseases of the nervous system and
others, Mr. Woodruff says, "These are huge numbers
beyond the 23,000."
Mr. Nicholson, a Vietnam veteran and a former
chairman of the Republican National Committee,
replies, "A lot of them come in for dental problems."

Bob notes that Traumatic Brain Injury, TBI, which is what he suffered from the blast, is not on the list of "injuries" and questions how many Iraq vets have TBI. Listening to the symptoms I began to wonder how many vets suffered a milder form of TBI due to being hit in an arm or leg, losing the arm, and later the TBI being misdiagnosed as PTSD or some kind of mental illness. The film revealed that it is highly possible, more than likely that 150 thousand Iraq war vets have suffered TBI. Bob has teamed up with the Brain Injury Association of America as their "Poster Boy." I am hoping, however, now that Bob has joined the ranks of People With Disabilities, PWDs, he will go beyond the image, and take the lead in helping Americans understand that when a person becomes a PWD s/he shouldn't lose his or her Civil Rights.

The shocking expose of our failure to "support" our troops should bring folks to action. After all, it is so much cheaper to "treat" a veteran dxed with PTSD or "mental illness," (give them a prescription and send them home,) than to take the time to dx TBI and then provide the appropiate rehab.

Are we shortchanging our vets?

Do PWDs have a right to a correct diagnosis?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Here is a great opportunity for folks with disabilities to apply fpr training so they can become active in the policy making process of state and local government. PWD's make up 20% of the population over 5yrs old, yet 70% of PWD's who want to work cannot find suitable employment.

From Enough Room we have......

""Below is an article from the weekly local paper in Cambridge MA about an effort to help minorities participate in elections, and run for office. The program is for 16 weeks on Mondays beginning on April 2, 2007. The deadline to apply is March 5, 2007. Avi Green agreed to be the contact person for persons with disabilities.His email is agreen@massvote.orghis phone is (617) 542-8683""

From the Cambridge Chronicle we have......

""Negretti is hoping to change the political landscape in greater Boston. Oiste?, MassVote and Suffolk University have teamed up to offer a 16-week, intensive crash course for minorities looking to enter politics. The course is expected to teach everything from political training to networking. Negretti hopes to offer the class twice a year starting next year. The application process for the class is likely to be selective; Negretti has already received 40 inquiries about the class, and there are only about 25 slots available.""

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cambridge Continues to Allow Uncleared Snow to Block Access to Sidewalks

The City of Cambridge has chosen the local option of assigning snow removal from sidewalks and curb ramps to abuters. However, the City fails to employ effective enforcement. Of the hundreds of properties that failed to clear snow from the sidewalks abutting their properties I have chosen the following three of the worst offenders. These three all on corners of busy pedestrian ways, illustrate the problem well. Property owners are required to clear a path 36" wide, on the sidewalks abbuting their properties. That means that folks on a corner must do sidewalks on both sides of their properties, as well as the curb ramps.

301 Brookline St at the Corner of Chestnut St.

180 Magazine St at Glenwood Ave.

156 Pearl St at Valentine St.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!

In China it is New Years Eve! Some would say Spring Festival. This is a fun family time, with great food and other traditions. This year it is the Year Of The Pig, so I thought this photo would be appropiate!

The photo is a cute plastic pink pig, with white wings! he has black feet and tiny black eyes. he is suspended from the ceiling at the Copy Center, and is as cute as he can be! Hey, hey, hey! This year Pigs Fly!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

City of Cambridge Plows Snow Into MBTA Bus Stops Blocking Access

Yesterday I observed the City's contractor plow snow INTO the MBTA bus stop, even as I motioned to him it was a bus stop, and shouted to him to plow the snow OUT of the bus stop. There was a plow and additional vehicles leading and monitoring the plow's work.

The photo above, shows my service dog wondering how she will get me onto the bus, as we wait at the MBTA bus stop on brookline St at Granite. Below, the long shot of the MBTA bus stop shows the treated street snow piled up in the MBTA bus stop, effectively preventing any but a snow goat from getting across and into the bus. The bus cannot be curbed, so the wheelchair ramp will be useless. This stop is in the middle of a long sidewalk, and one cannot quickly walk around to the corner and back to the bus. This part of Brookline Street has been turned into a highway of sorts, a-la urban ring, so folks risk their lives if they stand in the street to wait for the bus.

The City must instruct the plows to slow down, and plow the snow out of the MBTA bus stops, not into them. Perhaps this indentation design for bus stops is not a good idea anyway!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cambridge Mayor Ken Reeves to Conveign Neighborhood Safety Committee Meeting in Star Chamber?

After much spoken, writen and public testimony from residents from several Cambridge neighborhoods, the City Council ordered In City Council on Aug 2, 2006, a "special committee or task force be formed" to address the unchecked violence and crime. I myself sent a letter outlining my views on how to deal with these problems.

However, in spite of many neighbors complaints, and testimony In City Council last week, neither the Mayor nor the City Manager has appointed enough representitives from neighborhoods on "the peoples committee," therefore another order was submitted In City Council last week. Mayor Ken Reeves "Charter Righted" the order, therefore it was o the agenda again this week, and I testified In City Council last night that Persons With Disabilities should be represented on this committee, and were not. I pointed out seniors and PWD's did not have their reports of crime taken seriously.

Mayor Ken Reeves accused Councillor Simmons of being influenced by an editorial by the Cambridge Chronicle. She denied it. Last evening, during discussion, Councillor Simmons said, "This is not the City Manager's Committee. It is not the Mayor's Committee. It is the City Council's committee."

Will the meeting scheduled for Wednesday Feb. 14, 2007 will violate the Open Meetings law unless it is open to the public and a notice is posted outside of the clerk's office? I have asked the City Clerk for clarification on this, and am awaiting a reply. Meanwhile, this questionably accessible route to the office of Mayor Ken Reeves looks like a slipery slope on the way to STAR CHAMBER politics to me.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

MBTA bus driver from "xxxx"

Returning home on Thursday Feb 8, as I entered bus #2272, at Central Sq bus stop on Mass Ave at Pearl, route 47, in Cambridge MA at 10:50pm, the bus driver hit me with a stream of verbal abuse. She demanded I tell her is the elderly gentlemen, who had been sitting in the freezing cold wailting over 1/2 hour for the bus, was "drunk." How would I know? I responded. I'm not gonna let him on the bus, look at him, he's been drinking!

I looked at the elderly man as he struggled to his feet, and hobbled toward the bus. Another passenger assisted him on, as the bus driver ordered him off the bus and called the police, as I steped forward to take his arm. What she told me when I informed her he was having trouble walking because he was old and stiff from waiting for so long, was she wasn't letting him on because he might fall and sue the MBTA! (there was no liquer on his breath)

Together the other passenger and I helped him to a seat. The bus driver screashed at me not to assist him in any way and to get off the bus. Another passenger said, "We don't have time for this, I have to get to work."

The bus driver was pouring lies into the phone which we all thought she was talking to the police. And screeching at the elderly gentleman to get off the bus. So I called the non emergency number of Cambridge Police, and asked to be put thru to MBTA police. They did NOT put me thru to MBTA police. They kept asking what is the emergency. Hello? First I didn't call the emergency number. Second, we have the verbal abuse and refusal of service by a bus driver that is, while I am speaking, calling in a false (police) report!! Third, It actually is an emergency if she puts him off, after he has been sitting in freezing cold waiting for the bus. Next bus isn't for another 45 min!

Can you say Human Rights Abuse??

So, the police informed me they were on the way, but the bus driver took off, after she ejected the elderly gentleman.

Then she refused to let me off at my stop! I was on the phone with the police again. She screeched at me, "This isn't your stop and I am not letting you off here. I know you, and this is not your stop!" I demended she open the doors, at Lawrence St, and put on the announcement. she refused to open the doors, even though she had stopped at Lawrence St, and drove down to Erie St. I had to walk all the way back to Lawrence St. Thank goodness I have a service dog to help me, unlike that elderly gentleman!

What kind of "service" is this?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Will City of Cambridge Move City Council Meetings to the Morse School Auditorium Due to Ban on Service Dogs??

Hi Folks, due to so many rumors about the City banning guidedogs for the blind at City Coumcil Meetings, I am writing this update.

I recieved a letter from the City Manager stating that he had been advised that Councillor Decker had informed Mayor Ken Reeves that the presence of my "dog" "exacerbated" her allergies, and that the "City," after analizing her request to ban my "dog" from City Council meetings, has decided to exclude my "dog" from City Council meetings.

My "dog" is a service dog, and by law, the City must modify its policies to allow a person with a disability to be accompianied by their service dog wherever other members of the public are allowed. More than a year ago, Councillor Decker, Mayor Reeves, and the City Manager, as well as all the other City Councillors, except Kelley, have recieved from me in writing what my disability is, and how the dog is used to help me with my disability.

Councillor Decker's request to exclude my dog from City Council was first made as an assault during the business part of the public City Council Meeting on Oct 30, 2006. This assault, and the following coercian, threats of use of force, calls to animal control to confiscate my "dog", intimidation, went on for 19 min.

The City has edited the video tape. However, members of the public have recorded the action on their own recorders.

I filed a discrimination complaint with MCAD against the cioty, and the city has provided a response. The City's response to my complaint includes affidavits of the named violators, and the City's "position" or defence, if you will.

The City of Cambridge, in its response back to me, is claiming that.....

the presence of the dog is a health hazard like the presence of cigarrette smoke.

If I lose my MCAD complaint the City will ban dogs from Sullivan Chambers, during City Council Meertings due to Councillor Deckers allergies.

This will mean that guide dogs for the blind will also be excluded, because their argument is that the presence of the dog poses a threat th Councillor Decker's health, just like the presence of cigarrette smoke.
Sullivan Chamber is not a small room. If the meeting were held in a small room, then it would be possible for Councillor Decker to reguest a reasonable accomodation and have the meeting moved to a large room. for example, the meeting room at Woodrow wilson is a small room, as is the room on the second floor of the Sr Center.

However, Sullivan Chamber is a very large room, aprox 45' wide, 50' long and 26-30' high. If this room is too small, and has poor ventilation, then the City mayu be required to move the City Council meetings to a more accessible space, one with better ventilation, such as the Auditorium at the Morse School.

Today, when I was at the Mayor's Office, the Mayor's staff informed me that Mayor Reeves, and the City were not going to ban service dogs, including guide dogs for the blind from City Council meetings. However, she did not know about the letter sent to me by the City Manager, nor the City's position on the presence of "dogs" in public meetings.
Another thing you may not have been told, is that on Oct 16th, City Council staff asked me to sit in the back far side of the public area because councillor Decker had not taking her allergy meds due to an appointment with her dr to due allergy testing the following day. I immediately agreed, and moved right away. And when I arrived on Oct 30th, I immediately went to the back far side without being asked.

I find it incomprehensible that Councillor Decker and Mayor Ken Reeves would make a public statement implying that I had not shown her any consideration.

The purpose of this is to clarify the facts re the issue of the City's attempt to ban service dogs and guide dogs from City Council meetings. They are trying to do this, and I have it in writing, and I am fighting against it. however, i am poor, and with no money, cannot afford an attorney. So, I very well may lose, and then a very unfortunate president will be set.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Ari Fund for VetDogs

Ari Schiff is making a difference with a selfless effort to raise money in support of disabled vets who need a service dog. He has been interviewed by news media including the Chichago Tribune, and folks across America are getting the news out.

Ari is only 17 now, but he was impressed with the story of a Marine he met last summer. When he asked the marine how he could help, the Marine responded make a donation to the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind which runs a program called VetDog which paies a service dog with a disabled vet. These institution trained dogs are expensive, and in this case are $30,000.

"Ari wants to make a difference in the life of just one veteran. He wants that veteran to know that America is grateful for his or her service and to do that, Ari needs to raise $30,000.

I cannot image what it would be like to lose your sight, your arms, use of your legs, or any of the other horrific tragedies too many of our veterans who need service animals have quietly borne for us in service of our country" quoted from Brad Thor, author, as posted on

Here is a quote from Anne L. Molinarolo in response to Brad Thor's comment on "Mr. Thor has sealed the deal-he has both a reader and a puchaser of ALL of his books-with his story of Ari and his quest to help this Marine. I challenge all of Mr. Thor's readers to match his donation. If you can't, give what you can! Brad Thor is not only a talented writer, he is a kindhearted Patriot. "

Please watch this spot for updates!!

Ari has requested that ...
Please make out your checks to "The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind," and in the memo section, if you could write the "Ari Fund for VetDogs," that would be great. You can send those checks to:
Ari Schiff
c/o Cary G. Schiff and Associates
134 N. LaSalle Suite 1135 Chicago, IL 60602

Here is the article:
ARI SCHIFF, 17, is a typical middle-class teen. His cell phone offers a weird greeting. He enjoys the outdoors. He's thinking about college. But the Lincolnwood resident has an atypical goal: He wants to raise $30,000 to help a wounded American vet.It began last August when he met a U.S. Marine captain on a Colorado rafting trip and they began talking about Iraq. The captain was recovering from a wound that had put him into a coma. He had also just attended the funeral for one of his men.
"I'd been looking for a charity to raise money for," says Schiff, a junior at Chicago's Francis W. Parker School. "I asked him if he knew any that benefit soldiers. He recommended the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind."The foundation runs a program called VetDog, which provides service dogs to disabled vets. Not just those who have lost their vision in battle, but those who are missing limbs. The dogs fetch things, provide balance and support, alert others in an emergency and give companionship to someone fighting psychological issues. The problem: Each dog and its training costs $30,000."My aim is to sponsor one dog and one vet," says Ari, who'd like to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. "I love dogs and have great respect for soldiers, and I thought this project would combine the best of both worlds."So far, he's raised only $1,500, mostly by hitting up teachers and friends. He intends to go door to door in his neighborhood next. But to reach his 30K goal, he will need a lot of help. An appearance on two radio shows yielded only one donation. Here's a chance to show that print beats radio. Contact Ari at and offer your money or time.It's one feel-good way to start 2007.

Congratulations Ari, on your committment and vision!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cambridge Police Permit Illegal Use of MBTA Bus Stop As Loading Dock

Photo above shows a UPS driver parked in the MBTA bus stop on Mass Ave outbound at Prospect, Central Sq, in Cambridge MA. He has several 2 foot by 2 foot boxes on the street, and a 4 foot dolly blocking the use of the bus stop by MBTA busses. The loading zone in front of the bus is being used by the cambridge police. They were not "on a job."

Round two, this photo shows the UPS driver has returned from delivering those large boxes, and is loading the dolly with more packages for another delivery to be made across the street.Both the truck and the loading area blocked the bus stop for the 1/2 hour that I watched. No busses were able to drive into the bus stop, and curb, so passengers could use the new million dollar feature, low floors so people with disabilities and seniors can board the bus.

When the bus stop is blocked by illegal use, such as parked, standing, loading vehicles, the bus cannot pull into the bus stop. In this photo, please see how it remains well into the street, blocking both the single travel lane as well as the bike lane. The MBTA agreed to settle a suit brought by BCIL, and has promised to stop discriminating based on disability. They have promised to curb the bus so seniors and PWD's can take advantage of these accessible busses. however, when the bus cannot enter the bus stop, they cannot curb the bus. Passengers must board while standing in the street. Transportation is a fundamental right, and the MBTA must provide service to PWD's, however, they need, and have asked for cooperation in keeping the bus stops free from illegal use. The Cambridge Police, however, have repetedly refused to enforce the law. One police officer identified himself as "officer friendly" and another "informed" me that he had thew "discretion" to decide how the bus stop should be used.

Above see one of the police cruisers, using the loading zoan. These officers refused my request to enforce the law, and told me he would drive around, and when he came back if the truck was still using the bus stop as a loading platform he would ask him to move. Gee, isn't that just another way of saying, it's OK with me if he uses the bus stop as a loading platform? I do not know how long the UPS truck was there. I came upon this illegal opperation at 1:30pm, and it continued until 2pm, even though I asked several police officers to put a stop to it.

Why are the laws not enforced? Why should the single lane of traffic, the bike lane and the bus stop be blocked like this? Why do the police believe they have a "right" to give "permission" to UPS to use the bus stop as a loading zoan? What does "no standing" mean, anyway?